6/206 Bourke St, Melbourne
(Ph) 9662 3688
A was in Melbourne and we had wanted to go to Hutong Dumpling Bar but of course, it was fully booked on this Saturday night so decided to try one of their offshoot restaurants, China Red. Fortunately I managed to get a booking here - they do 2 seatings, 6pm till 7.45pm, then 7.45pm till 9pm. We decided to go early and booked for 6.30pm - we thought it'd be packed given they said we had to be out by 7.45pm but there were still some empty tables when we got there, though they did get filled throughout the night.
China Red is located in one of the arcades between Bourke Street and Little Bourke Street, with a traditional (lots of red and dark wood) yet modern atmosphere. The floor level is not that big but there's an underground level too.
Through the glass window outside, you can see the chefs pleating dumplings and stretching noodles - good to know your noodles and dumplings are freshly made =)
They're the only restaurant I know of which has a touchscreen menu at each table and you order your own dishes - guess it saves them a lot waiter service? =P
They also have the menu in book-form for you, but the touchscreen gives you pictures of all their dishes and drinks - even pictures of the tea/teapot haha! The touchscreen was a bit laggy at times - or our touch was too light? It's separated into sections - Chef's Recommendations, Dim Sim, Appetizers, Cold Dishes, Chicken, Beef, Seafood, Noodle + Rice, Drinks + Juice, Tea etc etc and you click on the picture/dish you want, select how many of each dish you want, and then confirm your order. And make sure you check before you click "OK" for confirm, 'cause the orders go straight to the kitchen (we were trying to find a "Finalise" or a "Submit" button but none was found) and the food came out a few minutes later! The instructions under the touchscreen say there are no cancellations on orders and I'm assuming that means no modifications either =/ There's also a "Service" button which we pressed 'cause we felt like it =P but also 'cause we wanted water instead of paying $2.20pp for tea =/
Both A and I wanted the Shanghai Shao Long Bao (Steamed Pork Buns) (8 pieces) $11.80
Who calls it SHAO long bao?! Is't it XIAO long bao?? =P Yay they gave us ginger strips in a little bowl for us to put vinegar in =) The dumplings weren't as good as Hutong Dumpling Bar though - skin was very thin and there was lots of delicious soup inside, but the meat was a bit too soft like it was oversteamed? =/
We also got some Pan Fried Dumplings (8 pieces) (Pork) $10.80
Plating wasn't very good here =( And the dumplings felt like they were slightly deep fried as well?! 'cause the top pleatings were uniformly crunchy which they can't do if they pan fried them hmm =/ The inside meant was a bit better here, not as soft and mushy as the Shao Long Baos and there was also some broth inside, but the skin was a bit thicker than I would have liked.
Last came the Shanghai Stir Fried Noodles (Pork and Vegetables) $11.80
Nothing too special here, noodles were quite good, slightly chewy but a little too salty - actually not sure if these noodles are handmade here too 'cause there were other dishes which actually specify it like China Red Special Hand-Made Noodles.
6/10 - overall was okay, not as good as its parent, Hutong Dumpling Bar - maybe it was just today 'cause I remember my last visit here was better =(
4/5 - for an Asian restaurant it's quite good and quite spacious with boards separating the tables so you have a bit of privacy =)
3/5 - not much of service here 'cause you order your own food =P though the food came ridiculously quickly - not sure if the food is premade?!